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Do I need a prescription or referral to begin physical therapy?

Doctors consulting each otherMany people want to begin physical therapy for a conditions that are either recent or re-occurring. They want to be proactive and begin treatment as soon as possible, but are unsure if they need to see their physician first in order to get a prescription to begin PT.

In New Jersey, there is a law called Direct Access that lets people seek physical therapy treatment without a prescription or referral! Even though Direct Access lets people come into physical therapy before seeing a physician, there are certain restrictions that both the patient and therapist must be aware of.

  1. Not all insurances allow Direct Access. Certain insurances continue to require a referral, so it would be best to call your insurance carrier and ask just to be sure.
  2. The physical therapist must refer a patient to either a specialist or their primary care provider if no reasonable progress has been made in 30 days from the beginning of physical therapy treatment, or if the condition is out of the therapist’s scope of practice.
  3. Within 30 days of the beginning of treatment, the physical therapist must inform the patient’s licensed health care provider of the physical therapy plan of care.

In short: most insurances do not require a prescription or referral to begin physical therapy, however you must make an appoint and follow up with your physician within the first 30 days of beginning physical therapy.

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